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School buses mean school children. And we have to keep them safe.

Oct. 12, 2017

Photo of 11-year-old Miana
Photo: Miana could have been injured or killed by the truck that ignored her school bus’s stop arm. The fine for school bus stop-arm violations has recently increased from $300 to $500.

School bus drivers are the ultimate multi-taskers. They’re driving, of course (and not just a little car, but a great big behemoth of a vehicle), and they’re keeping an eye on their young riders to make sure everyone stays relatively well-behaved. But there’s one thing bus drivers do that you may not think about much (although you may want to start): They watch for other drivers.

Specifically, in this case, the school bus driver spotted a truck going around the school bus stop arm he had put out from the side of the bus as the children departed. By law, that stop sign behaves exactly the same as its larger counterpart at intersections: You stop for it. Period.

But not this truck. That driver didn’t seem to think that the lives of the children getting off the bus were that important, whether by ignoring the stop arm on purpose or by driving distracted and not seeing it at all. 

The bus’s dashcam video of the incident will make you gasp. That’s Miana, an 11-year-old child who was almost hit by the pickup that clearly did not slow down, let alone stop.

But like any good school bus driver, Miana’s driver was multi-tasking. As he said goodbye to the children leaving his bus, telling them to have a good weekend, he also saw the truck barreling up the left side of the bus in his rear-view mirror – and realized it was coming straight into Miana’s path as she crossed in front of the bus. The bus driver sounded his horn. Miana stopped. And the truck sped right past her, far too close for comfort.

Miana’s dad says she came home bawling that day. Miana’s mom says when her daughter saw the grill of that truck, she thought she was going to die. This story has a happy ending, but it’s up to all of us to make sure all school bus stories end happily.

“As a school bus driver, my number-one priority is for the safety of my children that are on that bus. I understand that I am actually delivering precious cargo, and each and every parent is depending on me to make sure their kids get home safely,” says Kathy Eiden, a school bus driver for the same district. “But I can’t control the vehicles that suddenly show up out of nowhere. It’s really important for us to get the word out to people in their vehicles: If there are buses out there, that means there are children out there.”

If what happened to Miana isn’t enough motivation to stop for school buses when their red lights flash, consider this: On Aug. 1, the fine for a school bus stop-arm violation increased from $300 to $500.

Whatever your motivation, Miana’s mother adds, “Miana has one simple message for us: ‘Help keep kids safe.’”